Imaginative Play

At some point or another someone from my family is going to ask about gift ideas for the boys for Christmas this year. I've preemptively been trying to file away ideas Henry suggests or that seem appropriate based on his interest. The other night i stayed up far too late doing "research" on Amazon and a clear trend emerged; make believe. Of course almost all kids play is "pretend play." Except for when they're using the real vacuum, and even that is a form of pretend since they do a sub-par job (but not without enthusiasm!)

When Henry plays with the phone he pretends to be calling 911 and reporting "two fires, on the roof!" Then he's likely to pretend to be the fireman putting out the fires. This weekend he started playing being a "policeman getting the bad guys out of the houses" (i'm not entirely sure what this stems from-- possibly my attempt to explain the paddy wagon.)

He was playing red-light/green-light with all of his bath toys the other night-- deciding which ones could get by him in the tub and flying his hangers around like planes this morning before school. It's a fun, fun time to watch a little person turn just about anything into a wacky made-up escapade.


Conversation Topics

A love of vaccuming now runs in the family.

So i'm leaving the heading alone for now because Silas is still just engaging in the most preliminary of "expressions," but Henry has mostly moved beyond me being able to capture his amusing sentences to raising topics of conversation that are alternately amazing, difficult to answer, or relentless. So, you'll continue to see the funny things i can't help remember, but you'll also see the types of things he's turning over and over in his head. I'm hoping this will help me capture the kinds of thinking he's doing now more than just the speech aspect of things.

Silas seems to be holding steady in the speech department- he's got several two-syllable utterances; wa-wa, c-car, tr-truck, sh-shirt, as well as a handful of signs; where, water, bye-bye, milk, train, plane, etc. I think this is good enough for his 18 month visit (which btw i need to schedule!) and i'm assuming he'll make more progress in good time.


17 Months, 3 Weeks/ 3 Years, 5 Months

Busy, busy, busy which explains why i didn't get a chance to post last week. I was traveling Mon-Wed and the two remaining days didn't leave me much time to catch back up. But, it's about to get crazier. I have at least one trip a month until December and in October i have the craziest 20 days of my work/life balance yet. In 14 days we have two sets of back-to-back houseguests and during that period i have two trips-- one for work to CA and one with the boys to OK. So, if i'm not posting or returning calls, or moving much when i get back, you'll know why.

Here's some updates though to bring you up to speed. Henry's really working on a couple of abstract concepts-- truth and weekends. He gets so excited now when he realizes it's Friday afternoon and it's the weekend! Part of it was just realizing that on Saturday and Sunday he has more time to play around in the morning before we have to get dressed and go to school. Weekends also mean having syrup on your pancakes (we usually have some leftover during the week but JT has a no syrup rule on school mornings), and typically being able to stay up a little bit late.

He's also figuring out what "telling the truth" is, not so much because he's been lying but he'll go to get ready for bed, you'll hear him brushing his teeth, turning off the water, etc, but no toilet flushing. Then he'll run back out, and tell you that "the truth is" he just brushed his teeth and didn't go potty and dawdle a bit and then run back to finish getting ready for bed.

He's also exploring early math concepts. Today he was helping me make a cake and we talked about how we needed to put in 5 eggs. We had already put in four and i asked him how many more we needed to add until we got to 5 eggs. He told me one! It's not like he can do really hard math problems but he's definitely building a relationship to numbers. I had an education-long struggle with math so i'm personally looking forward to starting over with him fresh.

Silas has a little tiny bit of a stuffy nose and some sores in his diaper area. I'm not sure which is the culprit but he's been sleeping terribly. Last night i was up and down with him 4 times over an hour and a half and he only finally went to sleep once we moved him upstairs. Although he has the pain threshold of a linebacker something tiny gets out of whack and his sleeping goes off the rails. We're going to call the Doctor tomorrow to try to get him in-- we're due for his 18 month appointment anyway.


Toy Organization

From September 2008

I think my schooling is coming along as it pertains to toy storage. At first one big bin of soft toys and some baby gear that the baby may or may not agree to rest in is about all you have to struggle with. Then somewhere along the way, Christmas, birthdays and other events for showering your child with gifts emerge. Suddenly the coffers are full and you're struggling to not have your living room look like you're being paid to run a day care.

We've tried many strategies-- large containers, small containers, shelves, toy boxes, bags, etc. My current strategy rests on a couple assumptions--kids only play with 10% of what they own (assuming you have more than a whittled doll) and they get "bored" quickly with that 10%. We're lucky enough to have a basement, so we're fans of the "rotate method." I've been employing the basic method of trying to rotate toys periodically (ideally every 2 weeks, although i shoot for monthly) for awhile but i've now honed my technique.

I store toys to rotate in the basement in approximately one-square foot cubes. This allows for one "big" toy, as well as several small toys to fill the cube up. We've switched to primarily storing toys on open shelves; finding that toy boxes never have more than the initial surface scratched. The most important factor is culling the toys we do have to get rid of those that no one gets excited for-- even when they're just emerging from the basement. I'm particularly doing this now in prep for Christmas, but really i hope to keep it up at least quarterly just to keep toys manageable.

I've been actively selling on Craislist which helps provide some incentive for taking the time to list things. I've been trying to engage Henry on it as well-- asking him if he'd rather have X toy or whatever new item he's putting on his "list" for Christmas.



New parents are like apprentices that got matched without a master. If they're lucky, they band together, tackle the unknown, and build their credentials together. It's pretty amazing to witness-- newbies shoring each other up, learning from one another and building on each others' confidence. But damn if it isn't inefficient.

By the time you've got some parenting notches in your belt, first time parents scream rookie-- they bathe the baby, run errands, and entertain the baby together. They can't fathom life with a baby and a toddler because every task takes both of them at this point.

Parents that have banked some experience can and do tackle kid care separately. Both to make time for individual interests-- you do the morning shift while i get to sleep late, i'll do the late one so you can read; and because each can handle the mundane alone. Some things are certainly easier with two and some are more fun, but by now the more experienced parents know they can tackle most childcare on their own.

This is more efficient and often makes the kids lives happier-- someone runs around town to buy groceries and hit the dry cleaner while someone else stays back to let the kids play around the house or head to the park. In it's efficiency and productivity, it loses a little bit of the connection that new parents can be blessed with. Because not only are they engaging in tasks side by side, they're learning a craft together. It's like going to a pottery painting studio-- but with soul.

In the spirit of thinking i know it all as a parent, i've offered to take my friends' two daughters to the zoo with us this weekend.



One of the bonus benefits of Brenda's daycare is her early childhood interest and experience. It's proven a boon not only for quality childcare but as Henry officially morphs into a preschooler.

Many of Henry's friends are starting preschool in the fall and we looked into enrolling him in the half-day preschool program at the local elementary school-- only 2 blocks away. I've been researching this school since we moved in and have attended all the open houses i could. Everything points to it being a great school with a strong preschool program. As a bonus, it's part of the city's "preschool for all" program so it's free. The downside is that it's only a half-day program which would mean someone would need to meet Henry and take 30 minutes mid-day to take him to Brenda's. Then a few hours later return to pick he and Silas up. It's doable-- but not convenient.

Add to this that Henry already has a strong academic component to his daily play-based schedule. He knows his numbers, letters and colors, and is very interested in measurement, increments of time, etc. He's got a lock on the social skills preschool helps kids develop, having had the chance to move from circle time to free play to big-motor activities ever since he could participate in the least bit as a baby. He interacts with big kids, babies, and teachers all day.

All of this is to say that we decided he *is* in preschool now-- it's just part of his full-day care. So we've convinced ourselves to revisit the issue for next fall and see how the decision matrix falls.



I read an article lately that talked about one of those unspeakable parenthood topics-- favorites. The woman admitted to almost always having a favorite between her kids, but explained the favorite changed based on the phase one was in versus the other. For instance two year-old tantrums versus a six-month old sitting up, clapping and smiling-- but immobile.

This makes sens to me, but i'm also certain that to date my kids phases' have been more complicated than that-- making it less clear who the favorite would be. It's true that Henry is currently experimenting with talking-back, saying no, pretending not to hear you, and otherwise exercising his independent personality. And while Silas doesn't have the verbal prowess to argue with me, he does throw any item that strikes his fancy in the trash can and emits a high pitched wail when he doesn't get his way.

It's a wash really. Maybe because they're so close in age, their strengths and weaknesses seem balanced. It's possible i'll have a favorite at some point, but i'm sure to not write about it here.


Will Summer Come Again?

From August 2008

We wrapped up the official end of summer (while trying to confirm that summer will indeed rise again) with a pretty decent weekend. It was something along "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times," because while i had 5 days off work and home with the boys, one of those was an official sick day and the rest involved a mix of us all being under the weather, being somewhat better, hosting a bbq, and trying to enjoy summers passing. Of course with the weather hotter than it's been all summer, it's been a little hard to get too teary-eyed about the changing seasons.

We didn't make it to the pool again after i took the boys on Friday, but i think i'm going to look into swim lessons for Henry this fall. We haven't completely decided what we're going to do about him and gym class. We're waiting until at least the fall session to enroll because right now he's getting a lot of the same practice and exercise by frequent park visits.

I think because they've been sick, the boys' sleep skills have deteriorated a bit. Each night it's at least one of them up a few times- and sometimes both. Henry was crying out for me the other night and when i went down to figure out what was wrong he was sitting-up in bed saying "let's play" over and over to me. I'm not sure he was awake but after he called out for me an hour later i told him that he needed to remember to just roll over and go back to sleep if he woke up at night. I think he's back on the right path, but in the meantime, Silas has been waking up and when i go down to comfort him at night ... (as he just did with perfect timing) he won't quiet down and points out of his room. He's definitely at the point where everything is more exciting than sleeping even in the middle of the night. So we'll see. When it gets really bad i put him in the pack-n-play upstairs but i'm hoping not to make a habit of that.


Baby and Infant/Pregnancy Books

Pregnancy and Baby Book Reviews

Way before i was pregnant with Henry, and before we were even sure we were going to have children, i was in full research mode. I read everything i could get my hands on related to pregnancy, birth and infants. Of course by the time i was actually pregnant i was done with pregnancy books and focused on more specialized topics-- like child care. I read as many books about babies and sleep as i could get my hands on once Henry was born and found Weissbluth's book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child the most helpful.

I wrote mini-reviews of the books as i finished them and i've since shared this list several times with pregnant friends. So, i'm adding this to my resources section in the hope that it will help others embarking on their own pregnancies or child-rearing. I'd be happy to add some more recent reviews-- so free free to post your own in the comments section or email them to me through my profile.